I’ve asked many study abroad students one simple question over the years and have usually gotten blank stares and silence in return, which is precisely why I continue to ask it!
“Why are you going to study abroad?”
It sounds easy enough, but it’s something that many students never actually think about. Answering it isn’t meant for you to defend your reasons for going, but rather to consider what is so important to you about having this experience.
Here are three reasons to spend a few minutes answering it for yourself:
1. You develop more self-awareness.
Too often we live on autopilot and end up doing things because we should do them. We’re bombarded with messages from different sources each with their own set of expectations. Your teachers and advisors may be telling you that you have to study abroad to set yourself apart and be competitive in the globalized economy. Programs market that study abroad will change your life. Parents may say their biggest regret was never studying abroad and they wish they had had the opportunity you do. But what is your motivation for going?
2. You gain a sense of direction.
Asking yourself why you’re going to study abroad can help clarify your own goals and give you a sense of direction. If one of your main drives for studying abroad is a passion for your second language, being aware of this can help you take full advantage of every opportunity to speak and advance rather than get distracted.
3. You become more confident.
Self-awareness and a sense of direction lead to more confidence. Going to study abroad is a great opportunity to learn more about who you are and what you want in life.
Stopping to ask yourself why you are doing something can have a profound impact on your experiences in life. Start with study abroad. Use it as an opportunity to become more conscious of your own motivations.